The U.S. State Department will seek to include ecosystem functions in the Columbia River Treaty as it prepares to renegotiate the agreement with Canada.
The Columbia River Treaty was negotiated between Canada and the United States in 1964 to manage hydropower generation and flood risk. The original treaty had no input from tribes and didn’t include any protections for fish migration or habitat. But restoration of salmon could be included as a function of the treaty
as it's renegotiated.
A coalition of environmental groups obtained a letter from the Obama administration declaring its intent to include ecosystem functions in a new treaty.
“The Administration recognizes the significant economic and cultural role the Columbia River plays in the lives of your constituents in the Pacific Northwest, including numerous communities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana,” reads the letter. “ We assure you that the future of the Treaty is a priority, and internal deliberations are gaining momentum.”
A coalition of environmental groups including the Center for Environmental Law & Policy, WaterWatch of Oregon, Pacific Rivers Council, Save Our Wild Salmon, the Sierra Club and Columbia Institute for Water Policy praised the Obama administration’s move, saying in a statement
that the river is becoming increasingly imperiled from climate change.